Fight the flu with an influenza vaccine shot

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By The Staff

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for the first time that everyone older  than 6 months get their flu vaccine to prevent the disease from spreading.
There are numerous locations in Los Alamos to get the vaccine.
The Public Health Office, located at 3917 West Los Alamos, provides free flu shots, which are available by appointment. Currently, the office has 700 doses of the vaccine. To make an appointment, call 662-4038.
Free flu shots can also be obtained during the Los Alamos Heart Council’s 25th annual Health Fair, which will be from 8 a.m.-noon Oct. 23 at the Los Alamos High School’s Griffith Gymnasium. Los Alamos Medical Center provides the flu shots and 1,000 doses will be available.
Smith’s Food and Drug, located at 536 Central Ave. in Los Alamos and at 31 Sherwood Blvd. in White Rock are offering flu shots. The fee is $25 unless insured. Walk-ins are welcomed.
Los Alamos Urgent Care is also providing flu shots this flu season.
Urgent Care, which is located at 1460 Trinity Drive, will give out the vaccine for $25 until the supply runs out.
Dr. Robert McClees of Urgent Care recommends people get vaccinated from the flu.
“One of the main reasons is to protect others from getting sick … and also to protect yourself as well,” he said.
The best way to prevent getting the flu, Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil, M.D. said, is to get the vaccine.
“The H1N1 pandemic of last year could have been much worse if we didn’t have vaccine to prevent the spread of the flu,” Vigil, said. “We never know how serious a flu season is going to be until we’re in the middle of it. What we do know is that flu vaccine is the best protection for you and your family.” This year’s flu vaccine will protect against three viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus.
While everyone should  consider getting the flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that people in the following groups get vaccinated:
• Pregnant women
• Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old
• People age 65 and older
• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and lung or heart disease
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months
• American Indians and Alaskan Natives, who last flu season seemed to be at higher risk of flu complications
• People who are morbidly obese
So far this year, the Department of Health has shipped 230,620 doses of vaccine to public health offices and private providers for children. The Department orders for its public health offices and its long-term care facilities and for private providers who care for children. Providers for adults order on their own.
Manufacturers typically send flu vaccine in several shipments. The Department expects to receive vaccine throughout October and will ship as it receives vaccine. It usually takes two weeks for vaccine to take effect, and immunity lasts at least one year.
New Mexicans should contact their health care providers to receive flu vaccine. The Department’s public health offices provide vaccine to people who are at high risk for serious illness or death and people who have no health insurance. Public health offices are listed in the phonebook’s blue pages under state government. Contact information for public health offices is listed at www.nmhealth.org.
As the flu season progresses, you can find information about the flu and flu clinics by calling toll-free at 866-681-5872 or looking up the Department of Health’s Web site, www.immunizenm.org/flu.shtml. More clinics will be scheduled later in the season.
To avoid catching the flu or passing it on to others, people should frequently wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing and stay home when ill.